Director’s Update — May 2015

Every month, the CTSI Stories Blog will post excerpts from ongoing conversations with the institute’s co-directors.

Below, Nana Bennett discusses how the CTSI has enhanced the role of its Strategic Leadership Group (SLG).NanaBennett

Tell us a little about the SLG’s role in the CTSI.

Historically, the SLG was composed of a handful of leaders from across the university. They were chosen because they were not closely involved in the CTSI, but represented leadership of relevant areas in the medical center, e.g., clinical, educational and research. The hope was that this diverse group of people, coming from a variety of backgrounds, would serve as advisers to the CTSI.

In the past, we had a less formal structure than we do now. Starting this year — and we’re emphasizing this, in particular, in the run up to the renewal — we’re presenting various aspects of the CTSI to the SLG formally, and asking them to provide feedback. In addition, we have added two new members representing the community.  This has further broadened the scope of input from the group.

What has been discussed so far?

Population health was the first area we discussed.  We discussed the meaning of population health to different constituencies and what our focus on population health could mean to the CTSI.  We talked about how, sometimes, investigators aren’t fully aware of the community engagement resources available at places like the Center for Community Health, and that it is important to consider how they’re going to engage subjects in all aspects of a study, not just during enrollment. And we talked about how the CTSI could potentially serve as a facilitator in moving research in a direction that’s based on the needs of a community. For example, two pressing problems locally are obesity and mental health, so focusing on those areas could be a good fit for the CTSI.  We discussed ways to move these research priorities forward in the medical center.

At the next meeting, we talked about our funding programs — our pilot and incubator programs. We’re expecting the renewal RFA is limit pilot funding somewhat, so we’re going to need to focus on aligning our funding with key elements of our mission and vision. We are still in the very early stages, but we discussed a few ways that we might be able to tweak those programs, such as requiring a transdisciplinary team, requiring population health alignment, and focusing on the removal of barriers to translational research.  In addition, we discussed alignment of the many pilot funding opportunities across the medical center so that investigators understand all the opportunities, and have the capacity to choose the best fit for their research.

Next, we’re going to talk about team science, and how we can better support collaboration.  It has been very helpful to have this diverse, experienced group all come together to discuss these topics.

What else has changed about the SLG?

We’ve also added two members of the Community Advisory Council – Ann Marie Cook from Lifespan and Elissa Orlando from WXXI – to the SLG. Previously, the Community Advisory Council was advising the Center for Community Health, but now that they have a presence on the SLG, providing advice to the whole CTSI.  They have a more direct voice in the decisions we make, and they keep us on track in responding to community needs.


Previous director’s updates:
April 2015 – Karl Kieburtz talks about how the leadership is preparing for the Clinical and Translational Science Award renewals.
March 2015 – Martin Zand introduces himself and discusses his interest in informatics and population-based research.
February 2015 – Nana Bennett discusses the CTSI’s Seminar Series on population health.

January 2015 – Harriet Kitzman reflects on her time as a CTSI co-director.
December 2014  – Karl Kieburtz offers his takeaways from the CTSI all-hands retreat.
November 2014 – Nana Bennett speaks to the expansion of the role of the CTSI’s Community Advisory Council.
October 2014 – Harriet Kitzman discusses the science of team science.
September 2014 – Karl Kieburtz talks about why the CTSI is beefing up its informatics team.
August 2014 – Nana Bennett discusses the new Population Health pillar.
July 2014 – Harriet Kitzman offers her takeaways from the Mini Summer Research Institute.
June 2014 – Karl Kieburtz gives an overview of the CTSI’s six pillars.

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